The overall aim of Ignite is to be part of a process of development on the route to commercial success, where knowledge, experience and funding are leveraged through a variety of experts and channels. Delegates also gain access to a wealth of resources available via Cambridge’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, enabling the building of skills and networks that will fuel enterprise.
The Ignite week
This intensive week focuses on the development of winning action plans for innovative business ideas or projects. Tailored support through mentoring and clinics provide expert advice on individual business ideas and specific issues such as investment readiness, technical and market due diligence.
The schedule comprises lectures, workshops and practical mentored sessions. There are set themes for each day, ranging from Marketing and Business Models to Building Teams and Finance. These themes relate to the core development of business ideas. The mentors and MBA facilitators will be on hand to guide delegates through the preparation of strong business cases for a presentation to a panel of investors and entrepreneurs at the end of the course.
The final day of learning on Friday consists of private sessions with lawyers, accountants, marketing experts and other professional service providers to discuss the specific issues each delegate’s project. This is followed by final presentations in the afternoon.
Find out more about the daily sessions:
Each day starts with an inspirational keynote presentation delivered by either a member of Cambridge Judge Business School faculty, or a highly successful entrepreneur or innovator. These sessions introduce the specific theme of the day, provide background knowledge, an understanding of key issues and the opportunity to consider any specific questions related which you may wish to raise with mentors or experts in subsequent sessions over the coming days.
The workshops continue the theme of the day with practical tools and techniques on the specific topic. A number of highly interactive and targeted workshops are offered. Delegates, with advice from mentors and the Entrepreneurship Centre team, can select a workshop which is most relevant to their industry sector or business project.
The mentor sessions enable delegates to work more closely with an expert, to clarify the business proposition and to prepare the final business plan presentation. Selected delegates are placed in mentor groups consisting of approximately seven delegates to each mentor. These groups are carefully developed to match suitable mentors with delegates from similar industry sectors or backgrounds in order to optimise the learning experience. The mentors work with each delegate, acting as a sounding board for ideas and providing specialist advice on practical issues. These interactions with the mentor provide the chance to raise questions on topics, issues or angles not addressed within the keynote sessions.
Assistance is also available from high quality student facilitators. Several students from the current University of Cambridge Judge Business School’s MBA programme are assigned to each mentor group. These MBA facilitators assist with the mentoring process, helping delegates to navigate their way around the School, its library and computer facilities, and to progress individual projects through insight derived from their own skills and experience.
Individual private sessions with lawyers, accountants, marketers and other professional service providers are offered to cover some of the key issues in advancing individual business projects. Delegates are able to choose two clinic sessions.
Business plan presentations
Every delegate makes a pitch in private to a panel comprising of entrepreneurs, business angels and venture capitalists and senior industry experts. This presentation is then followed by a discussion in a coaching sense to help delegates refine and finalise individual projects. Each presentation is no longer than 10 minutes and the discussion with the panel lasts for 15 minutes. The Entrepreneurship Centre team will send the panel’s collective feedback on each presentation to the individual delegate upon completion of the Ignite programme.
In addition, delegates can share their presentations with fellow delegates and other business plan panellists by preparing poster summaries of ideas for a poster session on Friday afternoon.
The networking events held during the evenings are essential elements of the Ignite programme, enabling delegates to continuously communicate, refine and validate their ideas with contributors such as high-profile entrepreneurs, investors, bankers, corporate intrapreneurs and business professionals. They also help to build that vital network of contacts needed to progress business ideas beyond the week.